Wellesley, Medfield 2/22 - Milton 2/23


Talking advantage of the beautiful weather yesterday, I birded for the first time Lake Waban in Wellesley and the Medfield Charles River State Reservation. Parking by the Wellesley College athletic field I began my walk around the west side of the lake. Open deciduous woods anchored a shrubby cattail stream flowing out from a small higher pond into the lake. A ridge-line path set higher in the woods revealed a beautiful dell of hemlocks. Continuing further, the low elevations of the woods were filled with rhododendrons that thinned out up the slopes of the hills into rocky outcrops and many young white pines. Even further the deeper woods morphed into thick white pine groves with very large trees and a dense dead understory. Reaching the south end of the lake I looped around to the east side and found myself at the back edge of private yards with large houses. The trail hugged the edge of the lake here, framed by dense rhododendrons. Eventually it opened out back into Wellesley College property and the habitat became more manicured and open throughout the campus.  The highlight bird-wise was a Common Raven, five Ring-necked Ducks, nine American Coot, and a Turkey Vulture. I was hoping for Red-breasted Nuthatch and the habitat was excellent but I had no such luck. The Turkey Vulture here would have been a county year bird had I not had two soaring over the highway on my way to Lake Waban.

​From Wellesley I drove south to Medfield and parked at a place google calls McCarthy Park although no sign displaying this name could be located in situ. The place is an open semi-defunct field complex, with stands of birches and what looked to be a dry cattail marsh. Edge habitat abounded but literally no birds could be found beside a small flock of Cedar Waxwings. Areas of concrete dotted this overgrown place, and much of it was rutted with meandering tire tracks. An open mowed hill close to the road seemed to be a popular place for people to exercise their dogs. For some reason most visitors felt the need to drive a healthy distance off-road instead of parking on the edge of the paved park road. From McCarthy Park I walked along Hospital Rd to the Medfield Charles River State Reservation. I entered via the gravel road that parallels the train track. This road heads straight for the model airplane field and dead-ends at the Charles River. Swamp and shrubby marsh can be found on either side before it reaches the mowed grass of the airplane field. The edge of the field borders the river and the habitat is typical for the edges of the Charles River. Low shrubs and tangles of vines turn into matted grasses at the rivers edge. Birds were scarce although I ran into several American Tree Sparrows, a decent sized flock of Dark-eyed Juncos and a Sharp-shinned Hawk, which was another county year bird.

​Two county year birds for the day left me at 97 species. Only three more until the 100 milestone.

Today, after much deliberation I decided to do some very local birding. I planned to check spots in Milton including Turner's Pond, the landing, and a couple other spots along the Neponset River. At Turner's Pond I just checked the water and as usual this winter I came up empty-handed. Nothing other than the Mallards, Ring-billed Gulls, and pair of Canada Geese. Milton Landing was similarly disappointing. The lack of an eagle was made up for in a female Red-breasted Merganser. Not a species I often see this far up the river. One female Common Merganser also swam nearby.

I arrived at Riverside Ave with high hopes and was not disappointed. Upon parking the car I could see several Red-winged Blackbirds working the phragmites and plenty of sparrow action nearby. Opening the car door I heard a Common Grackle call from behind one of the houses. Geese filled the marsh and as I began to scan them for any rarities I noticed a Killdeer staring me down from the edge of a puddle. Blackbirds and Killdeer, the earliest migrants are sure signs that Spring is just around the corner! Entering the edge of the woods I came upon a large flock of White-throated Sparrows and Tufted Titmice. It wasn't long before I heard the distinctive chip of a Yellow-rumped Warbler and saw it flitting about mid-way up the trees. Juncos began to feed into the woods from the marsh and the sound of twittering birds filled the air. Walking out into the marsh I realized how sheltered I had been from the wind as it began to nip at my ears and my hands as I, gloveless, updated my eBird totals. Song Sparrows flushed from the edge of the marsh and as I reached the river I added several more species to my growing list. One Common Goldeneye swam near a Common and Red-breasted Merganser. With these three female ducks in view I scanned further and found a larger flock of Red-breasted Mergansers that included both sexes. A dully patterned immature Great Blue Heron stood in the marsh near a roost of Ring-billed and Herring Gulls. ​ Lengthening my walk to a nearby suite of industrial buildings and a small section of the Presidents Golf Course I didn't find many new birds besides a pair of Red-tailed Hawks. I made my way back to my car and headed home.

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Avian Obsession © 2020 Evan Lipton

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